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Chapter 11. The Cultural Context > Cultural Usability

Cultural Usability

In recent years, we have witnessed a growing research interest in the cultural context of user interface design. This interest has become even more manifest with the continuing worldwide expansion of the Internet and Web usage. The interest in cultural usability presupposes an operational definition of culture that Web designers can use to distinguish between cultures. Culture has been defined in many ways (Yeo, 1996; Hofstede, 1997; El-Shinnawy and Vinze, 1997; Cole, 1997), ranging from “shared values and beliefs” to “collective established patterns of thinking.” Bartlett (1932) discussed culture in terms of schemas that were in both the external, material world and the mental world.

For the purpose of designing cultural usability, we will keep the definition simple and operational. We will view culture in terms of attributes belonging to a target audience that distinguish it from other target communities. Therefore, we view culture as the collective of identifiable behaviors, practices, conventions, signs, symbols, artifacts, values, and beliefs that characterize a group. The practice of cultural usability requires that the designer identify the target audience's relevant attributes and design accordingly for them.


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